The arts is a place of performance, creativity, imagination and storytelling. A space for ideas and freedom – chosen by those with the creative minds to build a world on a page or tell a tale with their bodies. However, this thinking outside the box, people often struggle to prove themselves.
The unemployment rate for actors, calculated by the actor’s equality association is at 90% and a separate study shows that an estimated 52% of every 10,000 scriptwriters are unemployed. The statistics speak for themselves, proving that this certainly isn’t an industry with high success rates, it is though, an industry with possibly the highest rates of passion for the job than any other. This combination of rejection for the art that you love, can lead to an unsurprising rise in mental health problems, affecting those working in creative industries.
The arts is a place of expression and this is undeniably wonderful for the positivity and mental health of those who flourish in the industry – the passion to create and speak to the world in a safe place, for people to show themselves, their ideas and soul and in turn, give a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. But what happens when this art is rejected? When your passion is turned down and feels underappreciated? The feasibility, need and relevance of the arts are things that have undoubtedly been in question in the media and when creative passions are queried, this sense of self is too. Perhaps a root of this mental health crisis stems from a lack of appreciation on a larger scale, the argument of the extra-curricular nature of the arts is an angle that cannot be ignored. There is difficulty, in choosing a job, that most people see as a hobby and the constant justification to both the world and yourself, of your passion’s importance.
Dancer Phoebe elaborates further:
‘In many schools at the moment subjects such as dance are being cut from the curriculum, which leaves dance to serve the only purpose its left with – extra curricular activities. We need to stop thinking of subjects in terms of outcome. The outcome of maths is not can you do algebra, but it is the process itself that is important. This is the same with the arts. The arts should not be valued in terms of your outcome at the end of the subject, did you produce an art work and did you achieve a correct/final answer? It should be valued in terms of its process as a disciplinary subject. That being – what it teaches you along the way, the skills you develop, how this can be applied in things other than the one subject you are specialising in. Art is important for everyone. Art teaches you how to be open minded, it teaches you values, subjectiveness and objectiveness, to think of things on a deeper level, to question and to establish your own opinion. Its important for social integration, communication, bonding and inspiration, which of course is always relevant. Where would children and even adults be without books and colouring pencils? ‘
The mental health of artists is something that we must not ignore – the struggle for recognition and high level of stress when this is received. Supporting our artists is something that must not be bypassed and seeking help may be far easier if this was an issue addressed, something that ‘ArtsMinds’ is championing. With a study estimating that symptoms of anxiety are ten time higher and depression 5 times higher within the arts, ‘ArtsMinds’ is a place to safely speak and gain help for mental health problems within the industry – as ArtsMinds say themselves, life can be the hardest act of all.
Offering help to performers, writers and artists is something that I feel is particularly important. I myself have suffered from anxiety all my life, and writing, scripting and art are all things that have allowed me not to suffer this in vain, being able to transform my overthinking worrying brain, into scripts and art. Another, rather relevant quote for you ‘No artist sees thing as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.’ (Oscar Wilde) The place of creativity, freedom, art and love should not be one of loneliness in the inevitable times of rejection , and so perhaps it is time to ask. Ask you friends how they are, do not presume their happiness. Question their coping mechanisms and encourage them without prompt. The arts is a safe and glorious space for championing the wonders of the brain, and so perhaps, give a second thought to those wonderous brains when they are not creating.
If you feel as though you would like some help , please do not be ashamed! This is such a common feeling , and help is not as scary as you may think (trust me, I have asked, and the world, much to my surprise, did not collapse around me).